By David F. Rooney
Local museums and galleries are worried about the City’s decision to stop underwriting the Chamber of Commerce tourism coordinator’s position.
“That’s an essential role,” says Jennifer Dunkerson, executive director of the Revelstoke Railway Museum. “We really need someone to coordinate the marketing of Revelstoke.”
The City, in collaboration with the Columbia Shuswap Regional District, subsidized the $30,000 position for the past number of years. However, the CSRD’s 50-per-cent portion, which came from the Economic Opportunities Fund, came to an end last year. As a result, the City has not included funding for the position in its 2011-2015 Financial Plan. That could leave Greg Lister, the current tourism coordinator without a job and — more importantly — no one to coordinate tourism marking in Revelstoke.
“If he’s not there to do it, who will?” asked David Evans of the Nickelodeon Museum. “This is important not just for museums and galleries but for all of our local attractions.”
About 45,000 people visited Revelstoke last year, down from 50,000 in 2007 but up from just over 40,000 in 2009 and under 40,000 in 2008. Those visitors spend a lot of money in our local economy — between $11 million and $18 million on hotels, motels and campgrounds alone.
According to Chamber Executive Director John Devitt, the tourism coordinator is responsible for $168,000, or about one-third of the Chamber’s operating budget. He books all of the national and regional ads that promote Revelstoke as a tourism destination, manages the Tourism Guide, the Chamber’s various web products, all of the brochures and the kiosks at Grizzly Plaza.
“We’ve become pretty good at operating with a bare-bones skeleton staff,” Devitt said. “But without that position none of those things would happen.”
Dunkerson said the Museums and Gallery Collective, the local umbrella body for Revelstoke’s cultural institutions, will be meeting Mayor David Raven on Tuesday in a bid to convince him — and the rest of Council — that funding the tourism coordinator’s job truly is in the public interest.